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Avatar Soars Into $1-Billion Territory 782

Suki I writes " Avatar soars into $1-billion territory. 'Strong foreign ticket sales help make the science-fiction movie the fifth in history to pass the watermark. ... One of the riskiest movies of all times is now officially one of the most successful at the box office. When Avatar opened, its solid but far from stellar results left 20th Century Fox uncertain about whether the $430 million that it and two financing partners had invested to produce and market the 3-D film would pay off.'" Given that the big alternatives were Sherlock Holmes or Alvin & the Chipmunks, I think the winner was clear.

New Virginia IT Systems Lack Network Backup 211

1sockchuck writes "Virginia's new state IT system is experiencing downtime in key services because of a mind-boggling oversight: the state apparently neglected to require network backup in a 10-year, $2.3 billion outsourcing deal with Northrop Grumman. The issue is causing serious downtime for state services. This fall the Virginia DMV has suffered 12 system outages spanning a total of more than 100 hours, and downtime hampered the state transportation department when a state of emergency was declared during the Nov. 11 Northeaster."

Comment Re:The implications (Score 1) 244

I'm for killing violent offenders, but the problem is that the legal system is so broken that I'm not sure if anyone knows guilt vs innocence anymore.
I'm for abortions, but only in certain cases - extreme hardship for the child, health concerns, rape, etc. There are in fact times when you would be better off dead than alive.


History In Video Games — a Closer Look 139

scruffybr writes "Whether it's World War 2, the American Wild West or ancient Greece, history has long provided a rich source of video game narrative. Historical fact has been painstakingly preserved in some games, yet distorted beyond all recognition in others. Whereas one game may be praised for its depiction of history, others have been lambasted for opening fresh wounds or glorifying tragic events of our near past. Games have utilized historical narrative extensively, but to what extent does the platform take liberties with, and perhaps misuse it?"

Comment WoW pvp imbalance (Score 1) 520

I have a 55 hour work week, a wife and 2 kids, so here is a heartfelt thank you for the BoA items that grant additional experience. That said, I don't have time to play my main and level a lot of characters. For example, it took me almost a year to get to level 70 during BC when I started. Since the expansion, I've gained level 80 and have downed several 10 and 25 man hard mode encounters in Ulduar.

However, the melee imbalances in 2v2 arenas are such that I'm about to stop trying pvp at all. It's not worth the opportunity cost for me to level a plate wearer to 80, gear him up and l2faceroll. Is there something planned to prevent my only level 80 character (a warlock) from being every rogue's bitch in 2v2 arena? I'd happily trade my ability to completely dominate every paladin that comes across my path for the ability to live through a Cloak of Shadows duration. I recently dueled a s4 + s5 gladiator (ret paladin) and won 10 out of 10. Conversely, I recently lost to a level 80 rogue that was wearing a full compliment of greens and a quest blue. The fact that I was in mostly furious gear (with 2 piece t8.5 for the set bonus) did nothing to help me. I understand that duels are not meant to be balanced, but I chose that example because the same situation exists for me in 2v2 arenas when it's healer + rogue vs healer + me.

If pvp balancing issues for warlocks are out of the picture, are there any plans to provide pvp only servers (much like the tournament realms), where I can just create a level 80 character to do arenas and BGs with? I'd love to do arenas with my brother or a coworker, but in both cases our comp is completely impractical in even the mid level 2s bracket.

Comment Re:Classes? Who needs em! (Score 1) 209

This would never fly in a modern MMO, as it requires that player to plan ahead from the very beginning or to re-roll once they learned how the system worked. A 'spec' system, where those points could be re-spent late in the game to allow players to shift their skills to match their play style would be interesting, but could result in players being able to shift from a tank style class to a healer or magic dps depending on the day and the needs of their group/guild. Starting from a basic school system, melee/damage caster/healing caster with different starting skill costs would allow for varied classes for each player, and not much more lock in than any other MMO out right now.

Not only does WoW have that, but it has it for two specs at a time. I respec once or twice a week to min-max specific encounters. It's pretty obvious you haven't played a modern MMO in some time.

PC Games (Games)

The Challenges of Class Balance In MMOGs 209

Karen Hertzberg writes "Balancing classes in MMOGs may be one of the most daunting challenges of the industry. Few games are immune, and no game has ever claimed complete, perfect balance. So how does a developing company deal with the ever-impending demand to keep their games fair in both PvE and PvP environments? Ten Ton Hammer spoke with four industry professionals about the issue in an effort to glean some answers. Age of Conan's Craig Morrison said, 'It is part science and part intuition and experience, I think. We do, of course, have all the ... "spreadsheet" work in the back-end and development tools that calculate as many of the parameters as possible. On top of that, though, you then have the knowledge and skill of the designers involved. Working with a system, you have the general overview of how things interact and how players tend to behave in your game. Sometimes nothing beats spending time in the game itself and actually seeing how the players have been using the skills and abilities you have provided for them. Players are nothing if not inventive, and they never cease to surprise designers with their ingenuity, so it is vital that the designers are also watching and learning themselves.' "

Guitar, Studio Wizard Les Paul Dies At 94 227

beeshman noted that Les Paul has died. Paul was quite the hardware hacker of his day, innovating with guitar hardware, and later multi track recording. The Gibson Les Paul is one of the single most iconic instruments associated with Rock 'n Roll, and was of course played by Pete Townshend. Someday I'm going to get me one.

Comment medical problems (Score 4, Insightful) 492

As someone who recently had medical problems that sprung up over night, I can honestly say that there could be other reasons he's not responding. I guess an open letter is as good a way as any to try to get in touch with him, but the tone of the letter is beyond ignorant. It's more accusatory than anything (which may be justified), but it's certainly not a sign of professionalism. If anything, it shows that he may have been correct in managing the project without the petulant "help" of the other developers.


The Best First Language For a Young Programmer 634

snydeq writes "Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister questions whether Scheme, a dialect of Lisp taught as part of many first-year CS curricula and considered by some to be the 'latin of programming,' is really the best first language for a young programmer. As he sees it, the essentially write-only Scheme requires you to bore down into the source code just to figure out what a Scheme program is trying to do — excellent for teaching programming but 'lousy for a 15-year-old trying to figure out how to make a computer do stuff on his own.' And though the 'hacker ethic' may in fact be harming today's developers, McAllister still suggests we encourage the young to 'develop the innate curiosity and love of programming that lies at the heart of any really brilliant programmer' by simply encouraging them to fool around with whatever produces the most gratifying results. After all, as Jeff Atwood puts it, 'what we do is craftmanship, not engineering,' and inventing effective software solutions takes insight, inspiration, deduction, and often a sprinkling of luck. 'If that means coding in Visual Basic, so be it. Scheme can come later.'"
PC Games (Games)

Spore Patch Nearly Lets Creatures Into Other Games 60

Dalambertian writes "The release of Spore's Patch 5 lets players export their creatures (and soon vehicles and buildings) in Collada format. This includes textures, bump mapping, and rigging for animation. Maxis developer Ocean Quigley recently posted a nice tutorial for getting said creatures into Maya, and other 3D packages are soon to follow. This could have a huge impact on the games industry, and the indie games scene in particular. Unfortunately, if the patch falls under the usual EULA, then any legitimate use of the art assets outside of the Spore community becomes impossible. EA is apparently just teasing us with its taste-but-don't-swallow policy, and at present it's not clear whether the genius that came out of Spore's development will ever truly be accessible to the game dev community."

New PHP Interpreter Finds XSS, Injection Holes 66

rkrishardy writes "A group of researchers from MIT, Stanford, and Syracuse has developed a new program, named 'Ardilla,' which can analyze PHP code for cross-site scripting (XSS) and SQL injection attack vulnerabilities. (Here is the paper, in PDF, and a table of results from scanning six PHP applications.) Ardilla uses a modified Zend interpreter to analyze the code, trace the data, and determine whether the threat is real or not, significantly decreasing false positives." Unfortunately, license issues prevent the tool in its current form from being released as open source.

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